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How Much Is My Work Comp Case Worth?

workers compensationAs a Chicago Workers Compensation Lawyer who handles workers comp matters throughout the state of Illinois, I am always prepared for two questions:

1) How much money am I going to get?

and

2) When will I get it?

While these questions may seem like they’re coming from the perspective of an overly greedy person, the reality is that when a person is injured on the job, they are justifiably concerned about the economic impact that their injury will have on their family when they are unable to work due to an injury.

Benefits Afforded To Injured Workers In Illinois

While a person is off work due to an injury, the Workers Compensation Act of Illinois does provide for immediate benefits in terms of providing medical care and payments from the employer in the form of temporary total disability (TTD). In addition to these immediate benefits intended to provide for immediate needs, the Act also provides benefits to workers who have sustained permanent injuries, but are capable of returning to work.

Known as permanent partial disability (PPD), the Act allows the worker to recover a lump-sum payment for their injuries based upon the following factors:

  • Impairment report prepared by a physician in accordance with American Medical Association Guidelines
  • Occupation that the injured employee had at the time of their injury
  • Age of injured employee
  • Future earning capacity of the employee
  • Evidence of disability

While the Act does provide for workers who are permanently incapacitated to the extent that they are incapable of returning to their pre-injury vocation or in the situation of a permanent disability, for the overwhelming majority of workers injured in Illinois, work comp benefits are generally limited to: 1) medical expenses, 2) 2/3 wage payments while off work and 3) a lump sum payment based on their their injury. In this sense, when most people are referring to the value of their workers compensation case, they are usually referring to the value of their lump-sum payment based upon the permanency of injury.

Differences Between Workers Compensation & Personal Injury Cases

Unlike other areas of personal injury law where a plaintiff can recover monetary damages based upon their particular circumstance and how their injury has impacted them individually, the area of workers compensation law looks at the individual in a more crude fashion with a specific allocation of damages for each body part that is injured.

As ‘crude’ and as ‘unfair’ as the system is perceived to be, it is usually the sole remedy (unless there is a third-party who is responsible for their injury) for an injured worker to pursue when they suffer an on-the-job injury so they had better make the best of it.

Calculating A Permanent Partial Disability Rate

Awards for a permanent partial disability settlement are controlled by the Illinois legislature who assigns a schedule for assigning a value for each part of the body injured. Using the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) an employee’s PPD rate is calculated by multiplying by 60%.

Using the percentage of permanent disability assigned to the body part, a PPD benefit is assigned. While the PPD rate and the body part valuation is essentially fixed as they are calculations assigned by statute, a workers compensation attorney can help maximize the value of a case by presenting the evidence in the most favorable manner possible.

Below are maximum PPD awards for Illinois work comp cases based upon an employee who makes $1,000 per week ($600 per week PPD rate) and is still capable of returning to work.  Since most workers have at least some function of the injured body part, the award is based upon the percentage loss of use.

I have also put in parenthesis the weekly schedule for each body part based upon the most most recent figures (on and after 6/28/11). These figures may change upward or downward based upon the date of the injury.

Illinois Permanent Partial Disability Benefits Schedule:

  • Disfigurement (162) $97,200
  • Thumb (76) $45,600
  • Index finger (43) $25,800
  • Middle finger (38) $22,800
  • Ring finger (27) $16,200
  • Little finger (22) $13,200
  • Big toe (38) $22,800
  • Other toes (13) $7,800
  • Hand (205) $123,00
  • Carpal tunnel (57) 34,200
  • Arm (253) $151,800
  • Amputation of arm above elbow (270) $162,000
  • Amputation of arm at shoulder joint (323) $193,000
  • Foot (167) $100,200
  • Leg (215) $129,000
  • Amputation of leg above the knee (242) $145,200
  • Amputation of leg at hip joint (292) $175,200
  • Eye (162) $97,200
  • Enucleation of eye (173) $103,800
  • Hearing loss in one ear (54) $32,400
  • Hearing loss in both ears (215) $129,00
  • One testicle (54) $32,400
  • Two testicles (162) $97,200
  • Wrongful death benefits (look here)

Have a question about your particular workers compensation case and how your case may be valued by the Workers Compensation Commission? Give our team of team of work accident attorneys a call anytime to discuss your case without cost or obligation.

For more in-depth discussion of specific work-related cases, look at the links below:

Illinois Construction Accident Settlements

Factory Accident Settlements in Illinois

Maritime Work Injury Settlements

Illinois Railroad Accident (FELA) Case Settlements

Illinois Mesothelioma Verdicts and Settlements

Illinois Workers Compensation Awards by Body Part